It is a great time to live in Wairoa.

I’ve been interested to listen to the pre-election discussions around the environmental impacts of land usage.

As a farmer, I believe in most cases farmers are great protectors of the environment and are only getting better.

Landowners have a very big investment and a vested interest in looking after their property. Most of the farmers I know are taking a more environmentally sustainable approach to their land usage. They see themselves as guardians of the land and realise the importance of looking after the asset for the generations to come.

The key to environmental sustainability is working in partnership with every New Zealander.

We all leave a footprint and people who live in towns and cities are also contributing to New Zealand’s waterway issues.

It is important that we address this, but not just by picking one group and expecting them to carry the burden of fixing a problem that has been created by generations before them.

Whatever the make-up of our next Government is, I hope they balance the importance of farming and the primary sector against our legacy issues.

It has taken us decades to get into the situation we are in and change cannot happen overnight.

Farmers are getting better and better at what they do, and like local authorities, many of the decisions that are now being made are launched from an environmentally sustainable platform – something that wasn’t factored in when I was a kid.

A lot more resources and support are now available to help future proof our environment. The Hawke’s Bay Regional Council has some great initiatives around waterway planting, and these are being taken up by our local farmers.

In Wairoa we are looking forward to spring growth and a good farming season.

I hope too that the Central Hawke’s Bay farmers who suffered so badly during last summer’s drought will have a much better season.

Wairoa hosted New Zealand First leader and Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters and his deputy leader Fletcher Tabuteau earlier this month.

The Coalition Government has championed supporting the regions and Wairoa has been well-supported through the Provincial Growth Fund, so it was great to be able to showcase what we are achieving.

As I have previously mentioned more than $30 million of Central Government funding has now been invested in the Wairoa district.

That equates to a Government contribution of around $3,500 for every person living in Wairoa.

We have been told that Wairoa is one of the success stories for the Provincial Growth Fund and I know this funding is making a real difference to the lives of locals.

Two of Council’s major projects are Te Wairoa E Whanake- the main street revitalisation project and the Mahia East Coast Road upgrade.

Stage two of main street project is set to begin in early 2021 and will include physical works around the relocation of the i-Site to the main street and development of the main street burnt-out buildings.

This work will transform our main street and assist in creating further retail, employment, social and educational opportunities.

Te Wairoa e Whanake plans also include a Space Discovery Centre showcasing a cultural and celestial experience from early astronomy and Polynesian voyaging through to today, celebrating aerospace company Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket launches from Mahia.

The Space Discovery Centre is dependent on additional external funding and if successful would add to Wairoa’s growing tourism opportunities.

The Mahia roading upgrade is also on track with nearly three quarters of the repair and sealing of the Mahia East Coast Road completed, with the remaining work expected to be finished by Christmas.

This project will increase Mahia’s connectivity and roading network reliability. Funding provided a component to investigate options for the Nuhaka-Opoutama Road, including the blowhole dropout.

These roads are critical routes for residents, holiday homeowners and tourists as well as businesses including tourism, forestry, farmers, retailers, and Rocket Lab.

These investments in infrastructure will support and accelerate the potential of tourism, space and forestry industries in our region.

It is very rewarding to watch our district grow and prosper and all at no cost to our ratepayers.

Photo: Physical work on the redevelopment of the burnt-out buildings on Wairoa’s main street is set to start soon, made possible through Provincial Growth Fund investment. Pictured from left: project manager Roz Thomas of Vision Projects, NZ First deputy leader Fletcher Tabuteau, NZ First leader and Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters, Wairoa District Council chief executive Steven May, Wairoa Mayor Craig Little and WDC Councillor Denise Eaglesome-Karekare.

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